Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hansen: Core of same-sex marriage issue is freedom – by Marc Hansen, October 21, 2010 – The Des Moines Register


…"Every freedom you hold dear is up for grabs," Vander Plaats says.

Heart-clutcher Jon Ericson wasn't buying it. On Tuesday night, the retired Drake University professor and provost came to the Simpson College campus in West Des Moines to hear Vander Plaats square off with two former Iowa Supreme Court justices in an Iowa judicial retention forum.

I've known Ericson for years, going back to his days as a lonely warrior fighting academic corruption in college athletics. No guessing whose side he was on.

When Vander Plaats talks about how same-sex marriage will eat away at his liberty and freedom, Ericson wonders why Vander Plaats never considers the liberty and freedom he seeks to destroy by killing same-sex marriage.

Ericson went to the judicial retention forum with copies of an essay he'd written. He passed them out in the parking lot.

He begins the essay by saying he was taught two things growing up in small-town Nebraska: "Pay your bills and do no harm to others."

Then he mentions the gay Rutgers student who killed himself and other suicides linked to anti-gay harassment and bullying.

"At bottom, the question is about power - the power of the majority to decide for a minority different from them, what rights they will have, the power to tell a minority 'You are free to be like me,' " he writes. "A constitution is the protection against this abuse of power."

He goes on to quote a lawyer who says, "If the majority can decide the rights of a minority, why do we need a Constitution?"

Then it gets personal. Thousands of words have been written about why same-sex marriage should or should not be legal, but few get to the point like this…
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National anti-gay groups unite to target Iowa judges
by Andy Kopsa, October 21, 2010
Iowa Independent

The campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices over a 2009 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage has attracted the attention of some of the most influential conservative organizations in America, each working together and sharing materials, funding and staff with Iowa groups and churches.

That coordination will be on full display next week, when anti-gay marriage groups and politicians will hold 20 events in four days around the state hoping to rally public opinion against Iowa judges.

The face of the campaign, Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa for Freedom, is funded by Mississippi-based American Family Association. But they are not alone. The Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition and New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage all bring direct funding or in-kind legal and promotional support to local organizations looking to oust the justices.

“They have chosen to come into Iowa because we have marriage rights for people who are gay and lesbian and they want to test in Iowa whether or not they can do something about that,” Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Executive Director Connie Ryan Terrell said. “So they are going after our judges and justices.”

Terrell believes people throughout the country should take special note of what happens in Iowa’s retention vote, as it could become a template for similar initiatives nationwide.

“People need to be aware that it seems this year all of the very right wing organizations have Iowa in their sites,” Ryan Terrell said in a phone interview. “That’s a scary proposition for our state and should be a red flag to Iowans. The fact that we have drawn so much attention from outside organizations, so much money is being spent by extreme religious right organizations — they are dumping money into our state.”

Ryan Terrell said it’s important for people to understand the convergence of all these groups in Iowa.

“At the end of the day this is all about power, who has control and who makes decisions,” she said.  “And when you take a way the rights of a particular people you garner more power.  Iowans need to understand where these forces are coming from and what their intentions are.  I go back to the issue of Iowa as a testing ground – this is not just about Iowa and our Supreme Court ruling.”
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Interfaith Alliance of Iowa
Protecting Faith and Freedom

Mission of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa  
Promote the positive and healing role of religion in public life by encouraging civic participation, facilitating community activism, and challenging political extremism based on religion.

Who we are
Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is made up of people of faith and goodwill from across Iowa who believe in protecting religious freedom, respecting individual rights and uniting the diverse voices across our state for the common good.  We are Christians, Unitarians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, atheist, agnostics and more.

What we believe
Founded in 1996, the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa is a non-partisan organization working to protect both faith and freedom in Iowa. We believe religion best contributes to public life when it works for reconciliation, inspires common effort, promotes concern for all people and upholds the dignity of all human beings.  We also believe it is imperative that, in a healthy democracy, respect be shown for the religious freedom and beliefs of every person and that this is best promoted by maintaining a healthy separation between church and state.

Our beliefs intersect with many issues of civic life and policy including support of separation of church and state, public education, marriage equality, economic justice, and comprehensive immigration reform.
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GAY MARRIAGE “Oust Iowa Justices”
“We The People”
Kids Are Being Hurt!!!

O'Connor Decries Republican Attacks on Courts
March 10, 2006 – National Public Radio

Newly retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor took on conservative Republican critics of the courts in a speech Thursday. She told an audience at Georgetown University that Republican proposals, and their sometimes uncivil tone, pose a danger to the independence of the judiciary, and the freedoms of all Americans.

In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O'Connor said that attacks on the Judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our Constitutional freedom. O'Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents, or the Congress, or governors, as she put it, really, really angry.

But, she continued, if we don't make them mad some of the time, we probably aren't doing our jobs as judges. And our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation's founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent Judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government, those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O'Connor, as the founding fathers knew, statutes and constitutions don't protect judicial independence, people do…

…Pointing to the experiences of developing countries and former Communist countries, where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O'Connor said we must be ever vigilant against those who would strong-arm the Judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
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Gay-Marriage Critics Try To Oust Iowa Justices 
October 19, 2010 - Iowa Public Radio 

A heated campaign is under way in Iowa, where conservatives hope to unseat three of the state's Supreme Court justices following a ruling last year that cleared the way for same-sex marriage.

Judges in Iowa are appointed, not elected. And the periodic "yes or no" ballot questions on whether to keep them on the bench are usually low-key affairs. But in several states, anger over recent court decisions is turning the normally sleepy judicial elections — known as retention votes — into pitched battles.

'We're Watching'

In a cavernous exhibit hall at the State Fairgrounds, the Iowa Christian Alliance is holding its annual convention to rally religious conservatives. Activist Barb Heki is handing out yard signs that read "Vote no to activist judges."

"We greatly underestimated the demand. People have taken stacks of them," Heki says.

Conservatives like Heki who oppose the Iowa Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage are furiously organizing voters to check "no" on their ballots when they're asked if three of the justices should keep their jobs. It's like any other modern political campaign. But what's new is that the targets are appointed judges who routinely stay on the bench without the indignities of politicking…

Justices Go Low Key

In Iowa, the justices are taking the high road, declining to form campaign committees or raise money to urge a yes vote. One of the targeted justices, David Baker, says they want to avoid any suggestion that future rulings could be affected by campaign donations.

"We fully understand this course of action may not be the smartest move politically," Baker says.

So instead of a well-funded "vote yes" campaign, justices and their allies are lecturing on the value of a nonpolitical judiciary.

"Before you vote in the retention elections this year, reflect on the rule of law and the need for impartial justice for all, free of politics and free of special interests," another target, Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, recently told college students in Dubuque.
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Hating Gays:
An Overview of Scientific Studies
by Gregory M. Herek
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

…It frequently is assumed that feelings of personal threat result in strong negative attitudes toward homosexuality, whereas lack of threat leads to neutral or positive attitudes. This perspective often is associated with the term homophobia, and it derives from a psychodynamic view that prejudiced attitudes serve to reduce tension aroused by unconscious conflicts.

Attitudes are likely to serve a defensive function when an individual perceives some analogy between homosexual persons and her or his own unconscious conflicts. Subsequently, that person responds to gay men and lesbians as a way of externalizing inner conflicts and thereby reducing the anxiety associated with them. The conflicts specific to antihomosexual prejudice presumably involve a person's gender identity, sexual object choice, or both. For example, unconscious conflicts about one's own sexuality or gender identity might be attributed to lesbians and gay men through a process of projection. Such a strategy permits people to externalize the conflicts and to reject their own unacceptable urges by rejecting lesbians and gay men (who symbolize those urges) without consciously recognizing the urges as their own. Since contact with homosexual persons threatens to make conscious those thoughts that have been repressed, it inevitably arouses anxiety in defensive individuals. Consequently, defensive attitudes are likely to be negative… - International Day Against Homophobia
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“Most religious denominations
continue to condemn homosexuality
as sinful and provide a rationale for
marginalizing LGB people.”

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth

Social Environment

Although the social environment itself has not been defined as a risk factor for suicide, widespread discrimination against LGBT people, heterosexist attitudes, and gender bias can lead to risk factors such as isolation, family rejection, and lack of access to care providers. Risk factors may interact in unhealthy ways—for example, internalized homophobia or victimization may lead to stress, which is associated with depression and substance abuse, which can contribute to suicide risk. This risk may be compounded by a lack of protective factors that normally provide resilience, such as strong family connections, peer support, and access to effective health and mental health providers. Photo

In the United States prejudice and discrimination against LGB people are widespread among individuals, and in fact, supported by many religious, social, and government institutions. Homophobia and heterosexism are terms that refer to prejudice against LGB people and reflect prevalent social attitudes that most people have internalized (McDaniel et al., 2001).  

Morrow (2004) points out that “GLBT adolescents must cope with developing a sexual minority identity in the midst of negative comments, jokes, and often the threat of violence because of their sexual orientation and/or transgender identity” (p. 91-92) and that, given the pervasive homophobia in our culture and in the families of LGBT youth, “the internalization of homophobic and heterosexist messages begins very early—often before GLBT youth fully realize their sexual orientation and gender identity” (p. 92). Morrow also says that positive role models for LGBT youth are hard to find.

Herek and colleagues (2007) describe a framework to understand the social environment for sexual minorities. The framework integrates the sociological idea of stigma with the psychological idea of prejudice. Through stigma, society discredits and invalidates homosexuality relative to heterosexuality. Institutions embodying stigma results in heterosexism, and heterosexual individuals internalizing stigma results in prejudice. The United States legal system has faced challenges by sexual minorities and sympathetic heterosexuals that have led to significant changes. However, the legal system continues to reinforce stigma through discriminatory laws and the absence of laws protecting sexual minorities from discrimination in employment, housing, and services. A minority of states had antidiscrimination laws as of 2005, and most of these only referred to employment and not to housing or services. Most religious denominations continue to condemn homosexuality as sinful and provide a rationale for marginalizing LGB people. 

Researchers suggest that this social environment puts stresses on LGBT people that elevate the risk of substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. One study (with participants in their mid-twenties) found that internalized homophobia was correlated with depression, although not directly correlated with suicide (Igartua et al., 2003). Mays and Cochran (2001) found growing evidence that experiences of discrimination can result in mental health and general health disorders. Analyzing data from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS), they compared LGB and heterosexual people’s mental health and experiences with discrimination. The MIDUS asked about the frequency of lifetime and day-to-day experiences of perceived discrimination including being denied a scholarship, being denied a bank loan, receiving poorer services at stores, and being called names. Mays and Cochran found that homosexual and bisexual individuals reported more frequently than heterosexual individuals both day-to-day and lifetime discrimination, and 42 percent attributed the discrimination at least in part to their sexual orientation. LGB individuals were twice as likely as heterosexuals to have experienced discrimination in a lifetime event and were five times more likely to indicate that discrimination had interfered with having a full and productive life. Perceived discrimination had a relatively robust association with mental disorders.

Meyer (2003) describes a social environment that is hostile and stressful for LGB people. His review of research demonstrates that social stressors are significantly associated with mental disorders and supports a model of minority stress that theorizes the higher prevalence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders among LGB people as “caused by excess in social stressors related to stigma and prejudice” (p. 691). Another study relates minority stressors to suicidal behavior: a study of gay men (with an average age of 38) found that three stressors—internalized homophobia, stigma (related to expectations of rejection and discrimination), and experiences of discrimination—were significantly associated with five outcomes indicating psychological distress, including suicidal ideation and behavior (Meyer, 1995).

Other studies find that internalized homophobia and conflict about sexual orientation appear to contribute to suicide risk among LGB youth. One study reported that LGB youth are at higher risk of suicide if they report high levels of internal conflict about their sexual orientation (Savin-Williams, 1990). Another study of gay men (with a median age in the twenties) found that internalized homophobia was associated with depression and anxiety, which increased suicide risk (Igartua, Gill, & Montoro, 2003). A third study indicated that positive role models and high self-esteem are protective factors against suicide in young gay men (Fenaughty & Harre, 2003).
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Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth
Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

Bullying in Schools: Harassment Puts Gay Youth at Risk
Mental Health America

Prepared by the
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
for the Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Supported by Grant No. 1 U79 SM57392-02

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) provides prevention support, training, and resources to assist organizations and individuals to develop suicide prevention programs, interventions and policies, and to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
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Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Education Development Center, Inc.
55 Chapel Street
Newton MA 02458
877-GET-SPRC (438-7772)

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